The success story of 2011, Instagram growing 2x as fast as Foursquare


Back in the summer, US digital strategist Bryan Jones posted a prediction that Instagram (at the time on ten million users) would pass location based network foursquare by the end of the year.

That might or might not come about, but a post on Socialfresh shows just how close Instagram now is in terms of numbers.   Instagram apparently has just under 15 million users and Foursquare just over.

However the significant figure is this – Foursquare is growing at 0.8.66 million users a month, Instagram is currently growing at two million.

Why does that matter?  First of all Foursquare is cross-platform and has been around for a lot longer.  At least in the US, Foursquare has also tied up some impressive deals with American Express and retailers giving consumers real incentives to sign up – for example spend $75 at H&M and get $10 back.

As a result, Foursquare’s growth rate has attracted raised eyebrows.   RAAK’s Wessel van Rensburg pointed out that it would take Foursquare until 2020 to reach 100 million  - that’s the number of active (as opposed to total ) Twitter accounts in existence now.  Recently at Le Web, Foursquare boss George Colony was more unkind, calling Foursquare the kind of ‘nonsense’ that will soon be swept away

Instagram however, has reached its total while only working on Apple iDevices.   And so with an Android version – finally – in the works it does seem as if Instagram will become the major mobile only social network, with Instagram predicting that an influx of Android users could see it double in size.

Why has it been the success story of 2011?  I think UK social media and PR practitioner Katie Moffat got it right  when she said Instagram is really as much, if not more, about the community as about the photos.   Nothing comparable really exists on Foursquare – I get very few comments on my 4sq check-ins, I doubt anyone really cares and useful though the tips are I wonder how much engagement they really get.

The community is also what makes Instagram potentially powerful for brands.   This is something we’ve seen 1st hand at Rabbit, where an on-going campaign around (low fares airline) bmibaby destinations has seen a phenomenal 15,000 photos being tagged and uploaded so far.

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